BQuick On Sept. 9: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes
Visitors wearing protective masks view an exhibit inside of the Museum of Tomorrow, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazi. (Photographer: Andre Coelho/Bloomberg)

BQuick On Sept. 9: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

This is a roundup of the day’s top stories in brief.

1) Silver Lake Values Reliance Retail Lower Than Expectations...

Silver Lake invested in Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd. at a valuation that's in line with parent Retail Industries Ltd.'s calculations, but below the brokerage estimates.

  • The private equity firm acquired 1.75% stake in the holding arm of Ambani's retail unit for Rs 7,500 crore, according to an exchange filing. The transaction happened at a pre-equity valuation of Rs 4.21 lakh crore.

  • Reliance Industries, according to its filings, had invested in the retail unit at similar valuations a week ago. Reliance then invested Rs 11,650 crore in Reliance Retail Ventures through a private placement at Rs 682.25 apiece, marginally increasing its holding. The transaction, according to filings, occurred at a pre-investment equity value of Rs 4.21 lakh crore.

Yet, that valuation is lower than what most brokerages are working with.

...While KKR Gets In Line For Reliance Retail Stake

KKR & Co. is in advanced talks to invest at least $1 billion in the retail business of Mukesh Ambani, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

  • KKR is in discussions for a stake in Reliance Retail Ventures, a unit of the largest retailer in India, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

  • The private equity firm could invest as much as $1.5 billion and an announcement could come as soon as this month, one of the people said.

Separately, L Catterton is also considering investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Reliance Retail. More here.

2) Mutual Fund Flows Dry Up As Investors Cash Out

Equity mutual funds witnessed an outflow for the second straight month as investors continue to cash out in a market that has recovered bulk of the pandemic-fuelled losses despite mounting infections and dire economic forecasts.

  • Equity and equity-linked schemes witnessed an outflow of Rs 4,000 crore in August compared with an outflow of Rs 2,480 crore in July, according to data released by the Association of Mutual Funds in India.

  • Net investments into such stock plans have been dwindling for months as investors reduce holdings amid worries that the worst impact of the coronavirus may not have passed even as equities continue their ascent.

  • All segments witnessed an outflow in August. Among schemes, investors pulled out the most from large caps.

Contribution through systematic investment plans fell for the fifth straight month.

3) Sensex Erases Losses; U.S. Stocks Rebound

Indian equity markets recovered from the day's low but ended lower for the second straight day.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex ended 0.45% lower at 38,193 while the NSE Nifty 50 index ended 0.35% lower at 11,278.

  • The recovery was led by the heavyweight Reliance Industries along with metal and pharma stocks.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

5) Your EPFO Interest Payout Will Come In Two Installments

Employees' Provident Fund Organisation decided to credit a part of 8.5% interest on employees provident fund for 2019-20 into the account of its around 6 crore subscribers.

  • The decision to provide 8.15% interest on EPF has been taken at the EPFO's trustees meeting held on Wednesday, a source told Press Trust of India.

  • The remaining 0.35% rate of interest on EPF for 2019-20 would be credited into the subscribers’ account in December this year, the source further said.

  • It was earlier planned to liquidate some investment in exchange-traded funds to meet the deficit for providing 8.5% interest for the last fiscal. But Covid-19 played spoilsport.

The matter was taken up after some trustees highlighted the delay in crediting interest into subscribers’ account.

6) India Set To Overshoot Borrowing Limits

India is set to exceed its annual borrowing target after the world’s biggest lockdown decimated the government’s revenue collection goals, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg News.

  • Officials from the finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India will meet later this month to decide on the amount of borrowings needed beyond the targeted Rs 12 lakh crore ($163 billion) in the year ending March 31, the people said, asking not to be identified as the discussions were private.

  • Policymakers will also deliberate on options to raise funds including selling debt directly to the central bank, the people said.

The meeting will be scheduled after Sept. 15 after advance taxes start flowing in.

Also read: Coronavirus-Hit States’ Borrowings Soar 51% To Rs 2.97 Lakh Crore So Far In FY21

7) Not Breaking Any Promise: Expenditure Secretary On GST Compensation Issue

The central government is not in breach of any promise made to states as part of the agreement on compensation for shortfall in revenue on account of the goods and services tax, according to the government’s Expenditure Secretary TV Somanathan.

  • Speaking to BloombergQuint, Somanathan said discussions that took place in earlier GST Council meetings had debated a hypothetical shortfall in compensation cess collections.

  • “Then chairperson Mr. Jaitley after listening to specific requests from many states that the central government should give an underwriting of payment of the compensation from the consolidated fund said (and it’s on record and you can check the minutes) that was not possible and that compensation would be paid only from the cess and if the cess became inadequate to pay the compensation, the council would meet and evolve a strategy for making up the shortfall,” he said.

So, we are not in breach of a promise that was not made, Somanathan said. Watch the full interview here.

8) Covid-19: Daily Deaths In India Now Highest In The World

Covid-19 virus continued to infect people in India at a record pace with the country now seeing more deaths daily than anywhere else in the world.

  • India added nearly 90,000 fresh cases in a matter of 24 hours, taking the total tally to over 43.7 lakh, as per health ministry data.

  • This includes over 74,800 recoveries and 73,890 deaths.

  • The country has reported more than 1,000 casualties for eight straight days.

  • Average daily deaths in India over the past one week have stood at 1,079, higher than 801 in the U.S. and 797 in Brazil.

  • As the advanced trials of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate in U.K. was halted due to some adverse reaction, the Serum Institute of India confirmed that the Indian trials will continue as they have faced no issues.

Track all Covid-19 related news and updates in India, here.

Globally, cases topped 2.74 crore leaving over 8.94 lakh dead.

  • Europe’s fears of a virus resurgence are becoming reality with France’s health minister calling the surge in infections “worrisome”.

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson is poised to announce bans on social gatherings of more than six people in England.

Follow the global spread of the virus here.

9) No Maratha Reservation For Now, Larger Bench To Hear Matter

The Supreme Court Wednesday stayed the implementation of 2018 Maharashtra law granting reservation to Marathas in education and jobs but made it clear that the status of those who have availed of the benefits will not be disturbed.

  • A three-judge bench headed by Justice LN Rao referred to a larger constitution bench, to be set up by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, the batch of pleas challenging the validity of the law granting reservation to Marathas in education and jobs.

  • The apex court said that status of those who have already taken benefits of the 2018 law shall not be disturbed.

  • The Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018 was enacted to grant reservation to people of Maratha community in Maharashtra in jobs and admissions.

Maharashtra government had assured the court that it would not fill up the vacancies on the basis of Maratha reservation till Sept. 15.

10. Yet Another Attempt To Dilute Environment Laws

Battered by the pandemic, India’s government is making a renewed push to ease environmental laws that were formed as a result of the world’s deadliest industrial disaster more than three decades ago.

  • The government is proposing to reduce public participation, exempt some projects from rigorous appraisal and legalize others that are operating without environmental approval, according to a draft posted by the Environment Ministry.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration argues that the rules are too onerous and deter investment in an economy that shrank almost 24% in the second quarter because of the virus.

  • Environmentalists, lawmakers and citizen groups say the changes would only encourage more companies to ignore environmental rules in the belief that authorities don’t take them seriously.

Courts have struck down at least three efforts in the past three years to dilute or waive environmental rules.

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